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More about behaviour 

  • Writer's pictureJulie de Vaan

Stimulating waste separation and recycling (Coca-Cola)

Updated: Aug 2, 2022

Since 2018, we have been helping Coca-Cola witch achieving their recycling goals by encouraging people to separate their waste and return empty packaging correctly.

Insights & advice

Most people are aware that not properly disposing their waste has negative consequences for the environment. However, the value of plastic as a renewable raw material is not yet clear to everyone. Also, not everyone realizes that plastic can only be recycled effectively if empty packaging is returned in the right way, and how important their role as a consumer is in this. That is why Coca-Cola should address the value of waste and plastic, emphasize how important it is to dispose plastic waste the right way, and clarify what the consumer's role/responsibility is in this in campaigns to raise awareness.

Whether or not people ultimately separate their waste and dispose it the right way depends on whether they have sufficient motivation to do so at the moment of choice. That is why (personal, short-term) effects and consequences of disposing plastics the right way or not must be clear. It is therefore good to emphasize what waste separation yields, especially at the moment of choice. The more personal and clear these short-term effects are made, the better.

In addition, the choice of whether or not to recycle partly depends on the feeling that this behaviour has impact and whether goals are achievable. When large organizations such as Coca-Cola show that they are committed to recycling, it gives people the feeling that they are pursuing a common goal and that recycling is useful and meaningful. That's why Coca-Cola should use its brand power to set an effective (social) norm. It also helps clearly indicate to consumers how waste should be returned and what happens to the waste after it has been returned.

Finally, for people who are less motivated to separate and recycle waste, it is important to make it as easy as possible to dispose waste correctly. Do not demand or expect too much from consumers. Therefore, make sure you offer the right facilities: sufficient, recognizable and easily accessible waste collecting points in places where people routinely throw away their plastic waste, and where it is clear which waste should be in which bin.

Behaviour & behavioural change - Sustainability & environment - Waste separation, collection and recycling (Coca-Cola)
This Behavioural Map shows why people do or do not properly separate and hand in their waste, and which buttons to push to stimulate recycling.

Practical applications

Summer campaign 2019

Local measures

Inspiring others

In order to increase the impact of these actions in the field of waste separation and recycling, we share our progress, knowledge, insights and advice with others. We do this both internally and externally, for example during OPEN Live 2020 and a panel discussion about 100% rPET in Belgium.


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